Being that Near Death has a few similarities with the horror movie The Thing I constantly expected a monster to be entered into the story atBeing that Near Death has a few similarities with the horror movie The Thing I constantly expected a monster to be entered into the story at some point but luckily it stayed true to a exploration and survival game. It does a good job of that in my eyes. I am not normally a fan of survival games as I find them tedious but this game did a good job of breaking down the tasks and keeping me focussed.
It strikes a good balance between giving you solid tips for the game but not holding your hand too much to tell you exactly what to do. For instance I found a blowtorch in the game but it was never said when I had to use it, I had to figure that out for myself. The game did give helpful tips such as reminding you that if you set up rope lines between locations it would help you not get blown around by wind as much but it doesn't go into a full blown tutorial about how to setup rope lines or when to do it. The game also does a good job of making things a little harder as the game goes on and the weather gets worse without going full blown survival sim where you have to manage the cold as well as your hunger, thirst, sleep, etc. Basically you must craft items to help yourself survive such as patching windows to keep the cold out and making items to restore power to certain areas of the facility but there are only so many items to be found so you have to make choices of what to repair and where to give yourself the best chance to survive and progress. The story is simple but effective. Your plane goes down near a facility that had been left behind with little suppies and you must find a way to get passage back to the nearest manned outpost 225 miles away. The game gives you specific objectives to do this which I enjoy over a more sandbox approach. The game has a lot of nice subtle touches such as when your character is sufficiently warmed it doesn't say so on the HUD but you can tell by her voice. Also the map doesn't say where you are at the moment so you have to by a combination of memory, signs placed around the facility and landmarks you come across to figure out where you are and where you need to be. This may sound difficult to some but I didn't find it hindered my playthrough at all and was a nice small layer of diffiulty.
A couple nitpicks I had was that the map you're given of the facility doesn't show detailed layouts of each section, just an overview, and for some such as the science facility I found it hard to navigate. I also think that having options to turn on certain things such as a map marker of where you are and a meter showing body temperature would have been nice for some players. Giving people more options to customize the game to them hurts no one as they would be optional.
The game was pretty good from a technical standpoint. It never crashed during a playthrough but I did have a few times where on startup the game would go all distorted and the screen was transparent. It would keep doing this until I exited the game, exited Steam and restarted my PC. It would then work fine for a while. Over the course of 3 hours it did this 3 times. I haven't done any work yet to try to narrow down the cause whether it is with the game or my system. The game has next to no graphics options to speak of. There is 1 checkbox for AA (on/off) and no other ways to tinker with graphical fidelity. The graphics themselves are not top notch by any means but are not an eye sore either. There is a FOV slider though. It actually shows the FOV unlike some games which is fantastic and it goes from 50-120. There are auto save spots throughout the game but you can also manual save any time you want. This is the best way as people can save however they want. You can also change the difficulty mid game at any point. ALT-Tab also gave me no issues. The game ran pretty well overall. I did have FPS drops to the 50's from time to time but was usually at the 70-90 range. It does like fast CPUs on Linux. When I was on my FX-9590 my FPS was usually in the 30's all the time but when I upgraded to my Ryzen 5 2600X it basically doubled.
Overall this game was a great experience. Those looking for a survival game should give it a go. I find the only people who may not enjoy it is those looking for a more hardcore survival sandbox game such as The Long Dark. This would be more geared towards those loooking for a more story based experience as The Long Dark is not finished their story campaign. The game took me 3 hours to finish on normal difficulty and felt good for the length. Didn't overstay it's welcome and didn't feel rushed. Orthogonal Games has really shown themselves to be versatile as Near Death and The Novelist are very different types of games but both are fantastic.
My score: 9/10
My system used:
AMD Ryzen 5 2600X | 16GB DDR4-3000 CL15 | MSI RX 580 8GB Gaming X | Mesa 18.1.1 | Samsung 850 Evo 250GB | Corsair AX1200 | Solus 3 | Kernel 4.16.15-76.current… Expand